The Rotary project to convert an existing community hall in Sarsfield, East Gippsland, into a bushfire evacuation centre has attracted international funding with the pledging of funds totalling USD16,000 from the Rotary Club of Taipai-Tund and Rotary District 3522 Taiwan. This adds to the USD10,000 awarded by the Rotary District 9800 Foundation Committee and a further AUD14,000 awarded by the District 9800 Bushfire Relief Committee. The project, led by Rotarian Mark Stephens and the RC Brighton North, and co-sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Glenferrie and Traralgon, is in the process of applying for a Rotary Foundation Global Grant with a total project budget of AUD138,000.
The Rotary Club of Glenferrie partnered with Rotary District 9820 with a project in Sarsfield, earlier this year to help clear debris following last summers devastating bushfires.  Sarsfield is a small rural and farming community about 20 kilometres from Bairnsdale, Victoria.  90% of all homes in the community (61 homes) were destroyed by bushfires in late December 2019. The one road into and out of the town of Sarsfield was cut off during the fires and many in the community are concerned about rebuilding for the fear of having to go through another bushfire season.
The project aims to make the existing community hall into an evacuation centre, along with training for the local community in fire safety, fire readiness, and the practical fire and evacuation preparations needed in the event of further bushfires.  These bushfires are predicted to occur due to climate change, leading to increasingly frequent droughts.  The provision of a well-equipped community centre will also allow the community to rebuild with confidence and regain cohesiveness and develop sustainable economic activities.
International funding for the project was secured with the help of Past Rotary International President Ian Riseley of the Rotary Club of Sandringham, and is a great example of the power of Rotary networks to generate a huge impact from small beginnings - the idea of just one Rotarian.